System Builder Marathon: Low-Cost System

Motherboard: Giga-byte GA-MA78GM-S2H Motherboard

As we mentioned above, one of the main reasons for choosing an AMD CPU at this point is the wonderful 780G chipset. It's efficient, it's cheap, and it offers the best integrated graphics we've seen to date - with the option of outputting to four separate displays when used in conjunction with a discrete graphics card.

(Compare Prices on GA-MA78GM-S2H Motherboard)

Of course, since we're going against some tough contenders in the mid-range and high-end PCs we will certainly be pairing the low-cost platform with a discrete graphics card. Just don't forget that the 780G/Radeon 3200 is powerful enough on it's own to playback 1080p video files as well as serve as a baseline gaming platform.

Since we've chosen the 780G chipset, it's hard to ignore Gigabyte's entry into the field. The GA-MA78GM-S2H is a fully featured motherboard with Gigabit LAN, integrated HD audio, DVI and HDMI video outs, firewire and eSATA inputs. With all of these features at the $100 price point, the GA-MA78GM-S2H is a great choice for a low-cost build.

  • romulus47plus1
    Paying $230 for a 3870?
    Get the 8800GT for that price!
  • Retrogame
    The $500-$700 system is more important than you realize: it's an extremely important price point in the "Consoles vs. PC wars"

    For about $500, you can buy a top of the line current generation PS3 or XBox 360 with a few accessories.

    Of course, there are always games better on one platform than the other; and naturally, your PC is a lot more versatile; i.e. it's a "REAL COMPUTER!" Even so, it's nice to know that you can actually put together a low cost machine, overclock it a smidgen, and still run this games representative of this year's crop of PC titles... and if you were to actually scale down the graphics settings to the same level that the consoles would be running things at, probably end up with better frame rates and the advantage of using a nice monitor instead of a TV.